Canada passes assisted suicide bill

Ottawa: Canada's parliament has passed a contentious bill to allow medically-assisted death for terminally ill people. The bill received royal assent on Friday afternoon after passing a final vote in the Senate earlier in the day. The bill was voted through after a final bid by senators failed to expand the scope of who qualifies for a doctor-assisted death, CBC News reported. It was approved with a vote of 44-28.  The Senate had passed an amendment to include those who were not necessarily near death, but the House of Commons rejected it on Thursday. In a joint statement, the ministers reiterated that the legislation "strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those seeking access to medically assisted dying and protecting the vulnerable." The law was put forward after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on doctors helping the incurably sick to die. The move makes Canada one of the few countries where doctors can legally help sick people die. Assisted suicide is currently legal in just a few countries, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Albania, Colombia and Japan. The practice is legal in the US states of Washington, California, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and Montana.